UNSG on climate change: The real danger is the risk of failing to act

The General Debate of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly took place between September 25 and October 1, 2018. World leaders gathered at the UN Headquarters in NYC, with a vast lineup of speakers on a variety of global issues. The September 25th speech by Antonio Guterres, Secretary General to the UN, included a call to action on climate change, which represents a direct existential threat.  

“We have reached a pivotal moment.  If we do not change course in the next two years, we risk runaway climate change.” 

He went on to say that world leaders must listen to scientists, see what is happening before their very eyes and guarantee implementation of the Paris Agreement.  Voicing concern about insufficient progress at the Bangkok negotiations on implementation guidelines, he said the upcoming Conference of the Parties must be a success. 

The good news is that technology is on the side of progress, with the potential to create jobs and contribute to the global economy.  The real danger is the risk of failing to act.  Governments must end fossil fuel subsidies and establish fair prices for carbon.  “Our future is at stake.  Climate change affects everything,” he said, announcing that he will convene a summit on climate change in September 2019 to mobilize action and financing one year before States are to revive their Paris pledges.  Only a higher level of ambition will do, he said, adding:  “We must act today. The world needs you to be climate champions.”

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